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MICAT Summoned

-Over Punch FM Suspension

The Civil Law Court has summoned the Ministry of Information and its Minister Eugene Nagbe in connection to the alleged suspension of Punch FM.

This followed a thirteen count petition filed on October 15, 2019 before Judge Yamie Quiqui Gbeisay, through Patrick Honnah, Manager of Punch FM. Mr. Honnah is seeking for a declaratory judgment to over-turn government’s action to suspend his institution from operating in the Country.

On November 9, 2017, Mr. Honnah applied to the Liberia Telecommunication Authority in the office of Henry Benson, Commissioner for Engineering and Technology, the institution application for a frequency was granted by LTA between the periods of January 1, 2018, to December 31, 2018.

The amount of US$100.00 was paid as application fee for commercial FM Station in Monsterrado County (106.3MHz) and US$2,800.00 as Annual License Regulatory fee for Commercial FM Station (106.3MHz) service for the period under review.

The Honnah’s petition explained that upon satisfying the requirements with the LTA, he then applied for a permit to operate a radio station and Television frequency to the Ministry of Information, Cultural Affairs and Tourism (MICAT).

The permit according to the petition was granted on January 10, 2018 by the Director of National Communication Bureau, Madam Agatha T. Thompson of the Ministry of Information, Culture Affairs & Tourism and approved by the Minister of Information, Culture & Tourism, Eugene Nagbe.

After receiving the two  permits to operate radio and television frequency, petition imported and begun the installation of its equipment, at that juncture, the Ministry on June 18, 2018 published a press release announcing the suspension of all new operating licenses and authorizations issued to media operators from January 18, 2018.

The suspension which was executed on Wednesday, January 20, 2018 was intended to review the regulatory regime due to technical and administrative anomalies including duplication of frequencies to radio and television operators, and incorrect designations and submissions.

Honnah holds that it has been over one year after the registration of his institution to operate radio and television station that the government (Respondent) had failed and neglected to allow them to operate under a cloud of reviewing “regulatory regime”.

The petition quoted Article 8 of the constitution which states “the Republic shall direct its policy towards ensuring for all citizens, without discrimination, opportunities for employment and livelihood under just and humane conditions, and towards promoting safety, health and welfare facilities in employment.”

In a communication from the office of the Chairman of LTA dated February 13, 2018, it says “I present compliments on behalf of the Board of Commissioner (BOC) of the Liberia Telecommunication Authority (LTA) and inform you that One Media Incorporated (Punch FM) is authorized to operate a commercial FM radio station in Monsterrado County ,Liberia. In view of the foregoing, FM 106.3MHz has been assigned to One Media Incorporated (PUNCH FM) to be used exclusively in Paynesville, Monsterrado County.

The letter further noted that license for the use of frequency will be ready twelve working days and can be picked up at LTA’s headquarters on Menetamba Road, Cooper’s Community- Paynesville, Liberia. “Your FM assignment will be invoiced for spectrum and license fees annually.”

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